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TribBlog: UT System Regents Hike Tuition

The cost of higher education at UT schools will rise between 9 and 12 percent over the biennium, one in which officials fear steep cuts in the state portion of higher education financing.

The University of Texas tuition increases 2009, 2010 and 2011

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Wednesday approved tuition-and-fee increases ranging from 3.95 percent to 7.34 percent at institutions statewide for next school year, and similar increases for the following year.

All told, the cost of higher education at UT system schools will rise between 9 and 12 percent over the biennium, one in which officials fear steep cuts in the state portion of higher education financing. The largest increase for next year came at UT-Permian Basin, where total academic costs will rise from $2,875 to $3,086 per semester. The lowest increase is at UT-Arlington, where costs will rise from $4,272 to $4,441.

At the Austin flagship, costs will rise 5.4 percent, from $4,468 to $4,709. The regents earlier had given institutions guidelines to limit increases in total academic costs to the greater of 3.95 percent or $280 per year. The dollar-amount increases ranged from $140 at UT Tyler to $241 at UT Austin. The percentage-increase guidelines followed a nonbinding resolution given all Texas universities by the Legislature last session. 

“I believe the increases that are recommended are critical for institutions to deliver the highest quality of education, the highest quality of health care, and highest quality of research to our great state,” said system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

The increases follow a long trend of students picking up an increasing portion of the tab at public colleges. State support has fallen off since the Legislature deregulated tuition in 2003, in the midst of a budget crisis similar to the one facing the Legislature in the next session.  Since then, university boards of regents have had the power to set their own tuition rates to offset drops in state financing. Between 2003 and 2008, tuition and fees at all Texas four-year state schools skyrocketed by an average of 63 percent, from $1,934 per semester to $3,150 according to the last state figures, from 2008.

UT system presidents who spoke to the board Wednesday, each flanked by a student representative who participated in crafting tuition proposals, cast the new increases as moderate. Many said rising costs or losses in other revenue have put them in a situation where the tuition hikes still won’t cover their perceived needs.

“I have a $21.4 million problem, even with these increases,” said UT-Pan American President Robert Nelsen. 

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